Al’s first trial with Fish!!

What a lovely day and a seriously encouraging start….

The SEGS Novice Stake for 14 AV Retrievers (Walked Up) Was held today at Knowle Game Farm – Ulcombe – Kent, By the kind permission of Mr Steve King and at the kind invitation of Mr Graham Roberts & Guns.

The Judges were Mr Kevin Doughty, Mr Peter Avery, Mr Graham Home & Mrs Sue Berman

We arrived at knowle game with plenty of time to spare, fortunately Di was helping today and had an early breakfast appointment at the local pub (tough job for some!  😉 ). I dropped her off and carried onwards.

Having been 8th reserve, I found myself actually in the running order also at No.8. With four dogs inline at anyone time I was actually releaved to find out we would get a little while walking with the holding group before our big moment would come.

Now not to say I was nervous would be a slight understatement. Reminding myself to breathe was a good start! . 😀

Enough waffling!
The trial started for those of you that know the ground in the top field by the carpark. We were walking up in a mixed beet. No.5 was the first dog to complete both first round retrieves, with dogs 1-3 failing on their first or second retrieve. Dog No. 4 then eyewiped No’s 6 & 7. Bloody Hell! I’m in! These things really move fast when they get going. 🙂

So initially we were in on the right. Our first retrieve came near the end of the field. A hen bird flew left to right down the line and was taken by the end gun, It cleared the edge of the beet and landed some 70yds into an open area of grass field. Fish was locked on, straight line and was right side of wind, bird picked no handling needed. Fantastic 😀

So 2nd retrieve needed. Now it would appear that whilst we were all walking round this first field, that two forward guns had been having some excellent sport on the same patch of grass where fish had just had his first bird. The other judges on the left moved forward and sent one of there dogs for a blind, dog collected and returned.

We then moved forward with our judges. Now the dog i was backing up was sent for a blind near a feed bin on the edge of a wood. Dog found and retrived no problem. We were then sent for a blind that had fell near an old farm trailer also on the edge of the wood and to the left of the feed bin. Sent fish, he got his head down in the area and hunted and hunted, then he pushed back in the wood and disappeared. He then re-appeared over to the right near the feed bin, and had a hen pheasent in his mouth.

The Judges thought this may have been a bird that was not known about, so I had to re-send back to the same area. Gulp! But I had been told that if nothing is found i would be credited with that retrieve. Fish went out, held the area and was called up after a while. The dog backing me up also failed to find anything. So out go all 4 judges and begin hunting! I cant really explain the feeling, but I know my heart was in my mouth.

The judges returned empty handed. I was still in and returned to the holding group. At the end of the first round 7 out of 14 dogs had gone.

Only 1 retrieve in the second round (you’ll be pleased to know 😉 )
In the second field most of the action happened directly in front of us, but of course it was cross over retrieves! so dogs were being sent from the other end of the line. Our retrieve came at the end of the field when a bird was shot behind and across the line. I marked it, but i knew fish hadn’t! I lined him out and sent him, direct line to the area. I gave a couple of hunt commands and he was on his way back with the bird. 😀

All 7 of us left in for the 3rd round. On to another field, this time it was seedy beet about 4foot tall and very thick. You could see the look of horror on people’s faces as we approached it. Straight away a bird was shot no more than 20 yards in front (happily i was in the holding group!!)
1st dog sent, failed to find, but atleast 7 more birds got up from this small area directly in front of the line. (I don’t think i was the only one that gulped at the thought of just how much game is in this field then!)
2 more dogs were put on this same bird no more than 20yards away and also didn’t find. The 4th dog however did find and completed a 3 dog eye wipe. (Roger Wade & Faybourne Ace of Wadeshot)

Bloody hell! That means there’s only four of us left in. So four of us back into line. Whilst the judges were having a disscusion a very well taken pigeon dropped in front of us. No.5 was sent first with myself to back him up. Dog picked, no problem. On we go, hen bird across the line left to right dropped near the edge of the field. Fish had locked on (thank god) because of the height of the beet, I took no chances lined him out and sent him. Straight out, straight back.

No10 completed both 3rd round retrieves first and left the line, the three of us left in line were then moved to the middle. All of us needing a second bird to complete the third round. At bit further on up comes a **** bird and in a flurry of shots hit the ground out front and to the right. No.5 was sent and collected nicely.

Just Roger and myself left in line. Now then I’m thinking off we go, when a judge on the left hand side raises his stick and points to another area. It would appear a second bird was shot at the same time! Time to confess, I never saw it drop and fish was transfixed by the **** bird on the right.

So we get given an area, fish goes out nicely and hunts, eventually we called up. Roger’s turn, out goes his dog and also covers the ground where this bird had fallen. Finally the judges go out to look, heart in mouth time again. Then one of the judges bends down and picked this bird up! my heart sank. But it was there to be found! Both Roger and myself out.

This just left two dogs in No.5 and No.10 The dogs went back into line and unfortunately suffered the same fate as what had just happened to Roger and Myself. The Trial was closed with no obvious winner.

Final Results
COM & Guns choice – Mr Ron Jeffery with Faircotelabs Moss (FT CH Mansengreen Diesel of Birdsgreen x Hyndford Heat)

COM – Mr Ron Taylor with Norlands Ruby of Echobrook (Norlands Teal x Garendon Laura of Norlands)

So all in all. We came so close, yet so far. But I cannot tell you how chuffed I was and still am to have made it to the last four dogs in our first trial. What a day and what an experience, I cant thank everyone involved enough, especially those kind people in the holding group that kept passing me the sloe gin as time ticked on.

Wonderful, wonderful day   –  Al

(Pic below is not from today but will do till we get one of Mathew’s brilliant shots!!!)

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